Xia Xun’s bun loosened while he was in the carriage, a few strands of hair falling down over his face. His wooden hairpin was buried together with Yuzhu and only a strip of cloth was holding his hair. After a night of rain, it became very loose.
He Cong easily pulled out his hairpin and inserted it in Xia Xun’s hair.
“Don’t go unkempt like that! We can’t lose momentum to Qi Yan!”
The carriage stopped and Xia Xun pushed the door open, not expecting to see the scene in front of him.
A large group of people stood outside the gate of Qi Mansion. Judging by their clothes, they were all Qi Yan’s guards.
The sky was not fully lit yet and they were all still holding torches.
Their clothes were drenched, their shoes were muddy, as if they had been out all night. They looked pretty wretched.
Qi Mansion seemed to be in chaos.
There was something on the ground, covered with a white cloth, similar to a human form, like a corpse.
Qi Hui stood by the door, while Qi Yan stood in front of the carriage.
His hair was wet and his indigo-colored robe was so drenched that it turned black.
He seemed to have been in the rain more than Xia Xun.
Xia Xun was taken aback and did not get out of the carriage immediately.
Qi Yan didn’t move either. He seemed to be fixed in place by some spell, looking at Xia Xun motionlessly.
The expression in his eyes was extremely complicated.
They looked at each other for a short while, and then the spell that restrained Qi Yan was lifted.
He took a few steps towards Xia Xun to help him get out of the carriage.
Xia Xun instinctively shrank back, avoiding his touch.
Qi Yan suddenly grabbed his arm and dragged him out.
Xia Xun swayed, losing his balance and almost stepping on his foot.
“What are you doing—”
Before he finished speaking, he was already hugged hard by Qi Yan.
Qi Yan wrapped his arms around his back and held him tighter and tighter.
“…you are alive.” He sighed in Xia Xun’s ear: “You are still alive… great…”
His clothes were wetter than Xia Xun’s. As soon as he exerted force, the water from his robe dripped to the ground.
His body was very cold, and the side of his face against Xia Xun’s neck was even colder.
After holding him for a while, he slowly let Xia Xun go and pushed the scattered strands of hair away from his face.
Qi Hui walked from behind, holding a robe in his hands.
“My lord, put on a dress, you can’t catch a cold.”
Qi Yan took it and spread it out to put it on Xia Xun’s shoulders.
He Cong poked his head out of the carriage.
Qi Yan’s hands trembled, and the robe almost fell to the ground.
He didn’t expect that Xia Xun was sent back by He Cong.
He looked at He Cong and then at Xia Xun, his face full of disbelief.
His worries and uneasiness gradually receded, and an indescribable anxiety spread.
He Cong ignored him and only said to Xia Xun:
“The matter of Yuzhu… don’t take it too seriously!”
Xia Xun was a little surprised.
He Cong didn’t remember his dog at all, so why did he mention Yuzhu suddenly at this time?
Qi Yan’s face changed abruptly as he asked in amazement.:
“You disappeared for the whole night, were you… going to find him?”
Xia Xun was cold and indifferent. “What does it have to do with you, who I was going to find?”
Qi Yan suddenly tightened his arms and covered Xia Xun with the robe heavily. His hand did not leave Xia Xun but travelled up along his arm and finally stopped on Xia Xun’s shoulder, gradually exerting strength and squeezing Xia Xun’s shoulder tightly.
Xia Xun’s collarbone was clenched by him. He raised his head and glared at Qi Yan, but Qi Yan didn’t look at him.
He Cong was adding fuel to the fire:
“I know you are sad, but… oh… you mourn!”
He wanted to say a few more words but was rudely interrupted by Qi Yan.
“Qi Hui, kick him out,” Qi Yan said solemnly.
He gave Qi Hui the order, but his eyes stared straight at Xia Xun.
Qi Hui walked up to He Cong: “Master He, please leave.”
He Cong snorted:
“Qi Yan! Don’t think that your trespassing in He Mansion will be forgotten! When the sun comes up, I’ll definitely go to the imperial court to accuse you! You wait for me!”
Qi Yan ignored him and dragged Xia Xun to the mansion. He Cong was still demanding something but he couldn’t hear it anymore.
The room was brightly lit with candles.
Qi Yan pressed Xia Xun hard on the chair, walked a few steps to the side and turned his back to him.
His shoulders moved up and down, his breath heavy, his mixed emotions about to burst out.
Xia Xun stood up and was about to go out.
Qi Yan stopped in front of him and slammed the door shut.
Xia Xun turned his head and stared at him.
Qi Yan didn’t look at him, staggered to the side, closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths.
He didn’t want to do anything that might hurt Xia Xun on impulse.
He was trying to control his emotions.
After a while, he seemed to feel that he was calm enough. Then he spoke slowly:
“About Yuzhu…I know, it—”
Xia Xun was about to ask him how he knew, but when he lowered his head, he suddenly saw his wooden hairpin.
Qi Yan held it in his hand. He clenched his fist so hard that the varnish on the surface of the wooden hairpin was marked by his nails.
Xia Xun’s temples throbbed and he said in a lost voice:
“You—you actually dug up Yuzhu’s grave?! ”
Qi Yan was startled and looked at his hand.
Xia Xun asked sharply:
“Why?! He’s dead, do you want to make him restless? Where did he offend you?!”
Qi Yan suddenly looked up at him, his eyes like sharp blades:
“Then why did you leave without saying anything?! Do you know how long I have been looking for you? If I hadn’t seen Yuzhu’s grave by chance, I might still be looking for you aimlessly all over the capital!”
Xia Xun shouted angrily:
“Don’t tell me this, I don’t care! Where is Yuzhu’s body?! ”
Qi Yan put the wooden hairpin on the table:
“Why can’t I tell?! Like a headless fly, I sent everyone in the mansion to find you! Seeing that it was dawn and you were not back yet, I was desperate! Do you know what I was thinking when I saw that corpse?!”
Xia Xun approached Qi Yan step by step, his eyes full of hatred. Gritting his teeth, he asked:
“Where is Yuzhu’s body?! ”
No matter the cost, Qi Yan didn’t want to see such a look on Xia Xun’s face. The anger in Xia Xun’s eyes was burning both of them, burning to ashes.
He was defeated quickly.
Supporting himself against the table, he sat down heavily and said in a grim voice:
“…Still in Xia Mansion, I buried it again.”
Xia Xun’s resentment was slightly reduced:
“In that case, why did you take out my hairpin?”
Qi Yan did not answer immediately. Only now he seemed to realise that Xia Xun had returned safely. His nerves that had been tense all night suddenly relaxed and his whole body went weak, even his hands trembling uncontrollably.
“I thought you were dead… I saw Yuzhu and saw this hairpin. I thought you… left me again… If you really were gone, this wooden hairpin was the last thing you left me. How could I be willing to let it sleep underground…?”
He looked at Xia Xun with burning eyes.
“To lose something and regain it, and to lose what you’ve just obtained… You haven’t experienced the taste of it, have you…? I have tasted this feeling once, but I never dare to experience it a second time. But where were you when my heart was burning with worry and pain?”
He pressed step by step, asking one question after another:
“Were you by He Cong’s side? Were you telling him about your sadness? Were you… seeking comfort from him? How did he comfort you? Did he hold you in his arms and say some sweet words?”
Xia Xun smiled coldly:
“I don’t know what you are talking about. This matter has nothing to do with He Cong from beginning to end.”
While he said that, something fell out of Xia Xun’s sleeve. Xia Xun bent over to pick it up, but Qi Yan picked it up first.
Xia Xun took a closer look; it was a handkerchief.
In the corner of the handkerchief, the word “He” was embroidered with black thread.
He Cong gave it to him in the carriage and told him to wipe the rain water. After wiping it, Xia Xun stuffed it in his sleeve and forgot to return it.
Qi Yan’s fingers touched the word “He”.
“He Cong gave this to you?”
He seemed calm and composed but his hidden doubts and sullen anger were buried deep in his words, ready to burst out at any time.
Xia Xun grabbed the handkerchief:
“So what? What does it have to do with you? Yuzhu is dead, if I didn’t go to him, was I supposed to go to you?!”
He sneered and said sarcastically:
“Yes! You have raised Yuzhu for seven years, I should thank you! But isn’t it you who separated us in the first place?! What qualifications do you have to look so angry in front of me?! ”
Qi Yan stood up suddenly, took the handkerchief from Xia Xun’s hand and threw it into the brazier fiercely.
“Don’t forget! He is already married! He has a wife!”
Xia Xun was not to be outdone:
“So what?! I’d rather be with him than with you! I just hate that I was blind in the beginning, how could I like you instead of him!”
Qi Yan’s anger suddenly dissipated, replaced with cold.
His voice was bone-chilling as he warned him: “Don’t joke about this kind of thing.”
Xia Xun looked at him steadily:
“Joke? You’ve got it all wrong! The thing I regret most in my life is that I met you in the first place! If God can really grant me one wish, I wish I never met you!”
Xia Xun was almost screaming, sparks coming out of his eyes.
Qi Yan’s heart suddenly ached.
Xia Xun was always gentle and calm to He Cong, always talking to him patiently and steadily.
But when Xia Xun turned to face him, his expression changed at once, he became indifferent and disgusted, avoiding him like a snake or a scorpion.
If Qi Yan hadn’t threatened his eldest brother, Xia Xun might have run to the end of the world, hiding in a place he would never find in his life.
Just like in the past He Cong was the only one to know that Xia Xun was not dead; now, saddened by the death of his beloved dog, Xia Xun would rather sneak out to find He Cong than share his grief with Qi Yan.
The sharp pain in his chest made Qi Yan gasp a few times. He coughed violently, his always straight shoulders collapsing, making him looking extremely desolate.
Xia Xun didn’t want to entangle with him anymore, so he walked around Qi Yan and stopped at the window.
“…Lord Zhongshu is unwell, please go and rest quickly, don’t waste your time on me.”
Qi Yan finally stopped coughing. His voice was hoarse as he kept questioning:
“If I go, will you go to He Cong?”
Xia Xun was about to say something when Qi Yan suddenly shot like lightning, grabbed his arm, dragged him over and pressed him to the table.
Xia Xun’s back hit the corner of the table, the pain making him dizzy. He said angrily:
“What are you doing?!”
Qi Yan’s soft tone was in sharp contrast with his fierce movements.
He leaned to Xia Xun’s ear and whispered in a deep voice:
“Since I brought you back from Lingnan, I have no intention of letting you go again. If you want to be with He Cong, you can only wait until I die.”
He leaned close to Xia Xun’s face and kissed him.